World Bipolar Day 2023 – This Thursday

Aware joins mental health organisations worldwide calling for increased awareness and understanding.

  • 1-2% (up to 1 in 50 people) in Ireland experience a lifetime prevalence of bipolar disorder
  • Weeklong campaign to convey the reality of living with the condition
  • Aware’s free Living Well With Bipolar Disorder Programme designed to equip people with the knowledge and tools to live well

In support of World Bipolar Day this Thursday 30th March, mental health organisation Aware will run a weeklong campaign designed to increase awareness and understanding of the condition. Affecting up to 40 million people worldwide (WHO, 2022), it is estimated that 1-2% of people in Ireland experience a lifetime prevalence of bipolar disorder. It is a complex and chronic condition characterized by extreme changes in mood and energy and can have a profound impact on every aspect of a person’s day to day life – affecting their behaviour, relationships, family and work lifeWorld Bipolar Day is celebrated each year on March 30th, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.

Throughout this week Aware will aim to increase understanding by sharing lived experience perspectives to convey the reality of living with the bipolar disorder, along with clinical expertise to educate the public on the causes, course and consequences of the condition. The organisation is encouraging people to visit to engage with its wide range of resources to include free educational programmes specifically designed for people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or those supporting a loved one. 

Bipolar disorder is characterised by periods of low (depressed), high (elated) or mixed mood separated by periods of normal moodWhile it can be difficult to diagnose, the first signs are often seen in late teens or early adulthood. Symptoms can be severe, but it is possible to live a healthy and productive life once the illness is effectively treated.  Correct diagnosis of both bipolar disorder and the type of bipolar disorder a person is experiencing is essential for successful treatment.

Dr Susan Brannick, Clinical Director at Aware commented, “World Bipolar Day provides a great opportunity for mental health organisations worldwide to come together and bring global awareness to bipolar disorder, to educate and improve public understanding of the condition, as well as ensuring those with a diagnosis are familiar with the supports available to them. If someone thinks that they may be experiencing bipolar disorder, we recommend that they first speak to their GP or a mental health professional to ensure they get the right help with an evidence-based intervention plan. Following that process, Aware offers a number of additional supports to help the individual and the people who care about them. These include Aware’s Support Line and Support Mail services and its nationwide Support & Self Care Groups which offer peer-to-peer support from others going through similar experiences.”

The course of bipolar disorder is very variable. If poorly managed or left untreated, it can result in worsening of symptoms and more frequent episodes that last longer. It is a condition that requires lifelong management – and knowledge is an essential first step. Empowering people to look after their mental health is an integral part of Aware’s work and the organisation recently developed a programme specifically designed to address the needs of people living with bipolar disorder. The  Aware Living Well With Bipolar Disorder Programme is an education and support programme that aims to provide participants with opportunities to understand and manage bipolar disorder effectively, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to live well. The free programme consists of one 90 minute session per week, over a period of eight weeks and is delivered by a mental health professional.

Commenting on the programme, Dr Brannick said“The feedback from our Living Well With Bipolar Disorder Programme has been incredibly positive. I would really encourage anyone who would like to learn more about bipolar disorder and how to live well with the condition to consider registering for the upcoming phase of virtual and in-person programmes. This programme also benefits from a dedicated six-week follow-on Support & Self Care Group. Participants have found this very helpful to reflect on the programme and support each other as they go forward.”

For those supporting a loved one experiencing bipolar disorder or depression, Aware offers a Relatives & Friends Programme, a psycho-educational programme which was developed in response to a clear need for information, understanding and practical support. The free programme consists of six hours, over four weeks and aims to equip participants with the tools to understand and support a loved one, whilst maintaining their own health and wellbeing.

To engage with Aware’s resources on bipolar disorder or to register for Aware’s free Living Well With Bipolar Disorder Programme or Relatives & Friends Programme (both free, available in-person and virtually via Zoom), please visit

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